Friday, July 31, 2015

A New Zealand multiculturalist

They're everywhere, disrespecting cultures other than their own

A taxi driver who sexually assaulted an unconscious teen girl in the back of his cab has been jailed for eight years.

Mohammed Ahmed Khalil Daradkeh, 35, was sentenced on Wednesday after appearing in a court in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The court heard Daradkeh's 19-year-old passenger passed out in his cab due to a combination of medication and alcohol, after being put into the car by friends at the end of a night out, according to the Christchurch Press.

Rather than taking his victim home, as instructed to do so by her friends, Daradkeh drove to a secluded area off a freeway leading out of Christchurch, where he parked the car and sexually assaulted the young woman.

The 35-year-old partially undressed the woman as she slept and indecently assaulted and sexually violated her, the court heard.

Judge Stephen O'Driscoll said he considered the attack to be calculated, not opportunistic as the defence claimed.

'It was clearly opportunistic against this particular victim but I think there are a number of matters that indicate to me that this wasn't what might be described as a spontaneous sexual attack,' Mr O'Driscoll said.

The security cameras in the car were also illegally modified so they could be switched off. Daradkeh admitting he had 'feelings' for his victim and to deliberately driving to a remote area.

'That indicates to me a degree of planning, sophistication, and thought about what you were going to do to your vulnerable passenger,' Mr O'Driscoll said.

The judge also said Daradkeh seemed to have a lack of remorse for his crime, which was shown in his attempts to blame his victim for the incident.

Daradkeh had recently become a New Zealand citizen after migrating from Jordan eight years ago


Boy Scout Board Decrees Homosexual Leaders Okay

The National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America voted 45-12 to allow openly homosexual adults to be troop leaders. While Monday’s decision leaves an exception for troops sponsored by religious organizations, homosexual activists are already saying they will challenge, erode and destroy the exception designed to respect religious conscience.

Boy Scouts President (and former Defense Secretary) Robert Gates said, “For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us. Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good.”

Since Gates took the helm of the BSA in May 2014, he’s personally supported rolling back the ban. In May, he called for changing the policy. Despite Gates' assurances of unity, this top-down decree to the groups meeting in church basements and communities nationwide threatens to rend the organization.

The Mormon Church said it’s consider splitting from BSA to create its own scouting organization. And Rev. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention said this decision will probably “freeze” the relationship between Southern Baptists and the BSA.

Gates brought his political agenda to the BSA, and, as a result, religious liberty is being threatened and the BSA is cheapened. Furthermore, the change is the net effect of having a bunch of wealthy corporate guys fighting for advertising dollars leading the board of a national grassroots organization. There’s clearly a huge disconnect between the political agenda of the board and the culture of Boy Scout troops.


Lone Star Supremes Stand Up for the People

Good news from the Texas Supreme Court today. As you may recall, Houston Mayor, Annise Parker, and the Houston City Council passed a controversial pro-LGBT ordinance in late May 2014. Among other things, the law, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance — dubbed “HERO” — allowed transgendered persons to sue businesses that prohibited their use of their preferred bathroom. There was overwhelming opposition to the law in Houston and that triggered an effort by the citizens to repeal HERO by referendum.

The repeal campaign was led primarily by a group of Houston pastors and churches who collected twice the number of signatures required to get the repeal option on the ballot. According to the city secretary, Anna Russell, the petitioners collected a sufficient number of signatures. However, the Mayor and the City Attorney, David Feldman, defiantly refused to recognize that a sufficient number of signatures had been collected.

This decision led to the pastors and churches suing the City. Along the way, the city administration issued subpoenas in mid-October 2014 to the five Houston pastors who delivered the petitions. The First Amendment-crushing subpoenas instructed the pastors to provide documents in their possession — including sermons, emails, instant messages, text messages and other materials — that related to HERO. A national firestorm ensued. In fact, on November 2, 2014, Family Research Council led an effort along with sponsoring organizations and other partners to support the pastors and those seeking repeal by holding a national simulcast from Grace Community Church in Houston. The “I Stand Sunday” event drew over 7,000 attendees and was joined by hundreds of thousands via the internet.

The City rescinded the subpoenas in late October, but the litigation continued. Amazingly, three months ago a Texas district court judge ruled that the petitioners had failed to gather enough valid signatures to get the repeal measure on the ballot. Things looked bleak.

Well, [Friday], the Texas Supreme Court overturned that decision. The Court concluded that the City Secretary had certified the petition and that brought the “City Council’s ministerial duty” to go through the repeal process into effect. The Court held that the Houston City Council must stop enforcement of HERO and reconsider the ordinance. If it does not repeal HERO by August 24, 2015, then by that date “the City Council must order that the ordinance be put to popular vote during the November 2015 election.”

This is a tremendous victory for the rule of law in Houston. That said, this onerous anti-HERO of an ordinance is still on the books. The Mayor and city government had acted dishonorably to thwart the will of the people when they disallowed petition signatures, but, more dangerously, the subpoenas issued to the pastors were meant to intimidate political opposition and free speech.

Fortunately, Texas has a state supreme court with sufficient honesty and integrity to call a halt to this political thuggery. Many states, however, do not. In the meantime, the people of Houston need to mobilize for the repeal vote that lies ahead. But for today, this is a vivid reminder of Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”


The feminized USA

The United States has embarked, or been embarked, on a headlong rush into matriarchy, something never before attempted in a major country. Men remain numerically dominant in positions of power, yes, but their behavior and freedom are ever more constrained by the wishes of hostile women. The effects have been disastrous. They are likely to be more so.

The control, or near control, extends all through society. Politicians are terrified of women. The president of an Ivy university is fired, and replaced by a woman, if he makes the obvious observation that women are not much good at mathematics. Women dominate the schools and universities. A Nobelist in biology has to apologize profusely for having said that in laboratories women cry when criticized. Women have forced the lowering of standards for hiring police and firemen, for the military. They have made life miserable for small boys. The beat goes on.

The pathological egalitarianism of the age makes it career-ending to mention that women in fact are neither equal nor identical to men. The differences are many and most of them are obvious:

Women are less curious than men. They will learn to drive or use a computer, but will have no idea how either machine works.

They are totalitarian. A man is willing to let girls be girls and boys be boys. Women want all to be girls or, more accurately, to behave according to female standards.

Men enjoy competition; women deplore it. “Lel’s have a cooperative game led by a caring adult.”

Men prefer freedom to security; women, security to freedom. Wear your helmet on your bike. Use sunscreen. Dodge ball is violent and dangerous. Don’t swim without a lifeguard.

Women prefer emotion to substance. College is now more about feeling good and social arrangements than about academics. Note that if a man suggests that women are not terribly good at math, they do not respond with counterevidence, which would be substance. They become furious, and get their way by what amount s to a vast hissy-fit.

Women hate each other; men do not. In any office, for example, ninety percent of the interpersonal problems will be between women.

Men are more intellectually engaged than women. Note that in think-sites of the web, such as The Unz Review, both the writers and the commenters are overwhelmingly male.

Women have more emotional range than men, being both kinder and meaner. A woman is more likely to care for a hurt puppy. In a divorce, she will be much more vicious than the man. He wants to get out, she wants to get even.

Women have less intellectual range than men. Fewer women than men are extremely stupid, and fewer women than men extremely smart; the disproportion increases with IQ, there being almost no women at the highest levels. This is the glass ceiling.

Women are subject to hysterias; men are not. (For readers under fifty, “hysteria” comes from the Greek for “womb.” The ancient Greeks thought the condition was caused by a disorder in this organ. It isn’t, but they had they knew in which sex it occurred.)

A pertinent example is the current fascination with imaginary rape. Further, they are more obsessed by far than men with political correctness, which is also a form of totalitarianism and a search for security.

Women now hate men; men just wish women would shut up.

It is the nature of women to complain, endlessly, of everything. This has been a staple of comedy from Xantippe to the present. The meddlesome, complaining mother-in-law is a stock figure, not the father-in-law. The language reflects this. It is not called “bitching” because men do it. Likewise we have shrew, nag, scold, harridan, virago, vixen, fishwife, termagant, and henpecked.

Women want to intrude on men, to leave them nowhere to be exclusively among other men. Men do not reciprocate this.  If men try to open, say, a bar only for men, women explode. If women wanted to open a bar exclusively for women, men would not care.

Women have a poor sense of social boundaries or, in plain English, of knowing what is and what isn’t their concern. It amounts to generalized mother-in-lawing. In Mexico, where I live, it is invariably American women who want to tell Mexicans how to manage their society. A man cringes at the thought. Mexico isn’t his to run, and he knows it.

It is worth noting that women have little understanding of men.  They may say, resignedly or ruefully, “Boys will be boys.” They have no idea of why boys are boys. They know how to manipulate men, yes: Flash a leg, stick their chests out, cry, or act helpless. They don’t understand men any more than a bear trap understands bears.

Women, puzzlingly to a man, do not seem concerned with performance or effectiveness. They must know that a woman who cannot carry her end of a stretcher should not be half of an ambulance crew. Yet if barred from the job, they resort to political pressure and have the standards lowered.

Certainly it is not from lack of concern with the patient. Women are more compassionate than men. Rather they seem not to make the connection between hiring standards and carrying an unconscious victim from a burning building. Similarly they do not want men to be killed in combat. Somehow, and this is a mystery to me, they cannot see the downstream consequences of having soldiers who cannot handle the physical demands. Short time horizons? Inability to imagine anything so alien to them as combat?

In reading the news, note that almost invariably it is the females of the species who complain of microaggressions, of “triggering” words that make the feel unsafe, of uncomfortable environments and the like.

In the past, when men were in control of women and directed them, women were of great value to society. They were fine teachers, having absorbed the masculine idea that school was about learning things. An admixture of male teachers and principal insured discipline, which women on their own could not—being controlled is not the default mode for boys—and so there was no need for the police to drag boys from school. Today women make good doctors, dentists, and shock-trauma nurses. It is only when they begin to make policy instead of effecting it that disaster befalls.

Differences so profound will affect political choices profoundly, as witness the conversion of the schools into misandrist hives for the promotion of appropriate thought or, more correctly, appropriate feelings. The desire to protect anyone but white men from any offense, however mild, is both totalitarian and mildly lunatic. It now dominates national life.

Where will this lead? Stay tuned.We are going to find out.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Obese must get treatment or lose benefits says PM: Cameron launches review to work out cost to taxpayers of 'preventable' conditions

In the army, self-inflicted injuries are a crime and you can be charged over them.  I rather like that.  I think an appropriate civilian version would be to withhold all government help for such injuries.  At a time of enormous medical costs, help for ailments that are the results of obesity and drug abuse should not be available at the taxpayer's expense.  So I am pleased that Mr Cameron is moving in that general direction

Obese people who refuse medical treatment to help them lose weight could have their benefits cut, the Prime Minister will announce today.

David Cameron will launch a review to work out the cost to taxpayers and the economy of 'preventable' conditions such as obesity and drug and alcohol addiction.

He has asked a government health adviser to examine plans to force people with health problems to undertake treatment when claiming benefits.

Mr Cameron will pledge to make 'support and treatment' available to those with drug and alcohol problems, and the obese, who want 'the opportunity to improve their lives'.

But he will add: 'We must look at what we do when people simply say no thanks and refuse that help but expect taxpayers to carry on funding their benefits.

'Over the next five years I want to see many more people coming off sick benefit and into work.'

Around 90,000 people claiming sickness benefits, worth on average around £100 a week, whose primary condition is alcoholism or drug addiction could have their payments docked unless they agree to treatment. A further 1,800 receive incapacity benefit with the main reason listed as weight-related issues.

The claimants currently get offered treatment such as courses and medication to help them get better and back to work, but there is no legal requirement to accept the help.

Dame Carol Black, chairman of the Nuffield Trust and an adviser to the Department of Health, will today make an urgent call for evidence from experts and medical specialists before providing recommendations.

She said: 'Addiction to drugs and alcohol, and in some cases extreme obesity, can have a profoundly damaging impact on people's chances of taking up meaningful employment.

'By reviewing the support that is available here and abroad to people with these conditions, it is my hope that we can present a thorough analysis of the options available to Government. I am looking forward to discussing these issues with as many people as possible.'

The start of the review comes after a Tory manifesto commitment to take action in this area to get more people off benefits and into work.


Multicultural folly of denying ‘Islam’ in terrorism

Janet Albrechtsen comments from Australia

It’s so rare for a politician to climb out on a limb that the very notion of a brave political speech has almost become an oxymoron. So let’s give credit where it is due.

Last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron confronted a tough debate with brutal honesty. For too long, Western leaders have danced around the real reasons for the rise of Islamic State.

From US President Barack Obama to Tony Abbott, Western leaders have shied away from telling it like it is, choosing instead mealy-mouthed political correctness and cultural infirmity.

Speaking at Birmingham’s Nine­stiles School, Cameron said this: “In the past, governments have been too quick to dismiss the religious aspect of Islamist extremism … But simply denying any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremists doesn’t work.”

He’s right. In Australia, Abbott, normally a straight-shooter, has failed to make the honest link between Islam and Islamic State.

Cameron made the obvious point that “these extremists are self-identifying as Muslims. The fact is from Woolwich to Tunisia, from Ottawa to Bali, these murderers all spout the same twisted narrative, one that claims to be based on a particular faith.”

He said it is futile to deny that. Worse, it is dangerous to deny the link because you neuter the important voices that seek to challenge the religious interpretations adopted by extremists. Cameron wants to embolden those voices that provide an alternative view of Islam to halt the slide along the spectrum of extremism by so many young Brits.

It has taken a long time for even one Western leader to confront the truth that, as Graeme Wood wrote in The Atlantic in March: “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.”

Wood added that while most Muslims rejected Islamic State, to pretend it was not a religious group with theology drawn from Islam had led the West to underestimate its ambitions and meant we could not hope to counter it.

The British Prime Minister also admonished Muslim groups for thinking it’s enough to say “we don’t support IS”. As he said, al-Qa’ida doesn’t support Islamic State either. “So we can’t let the bar sink to that level. Condemning a mass-murdering, child-raping organisation cannot be enough to prove you’re challenging the extremists,” he said.

This is bracing stuff. When was the last time Western leaders demanded that Muslim leaders who genuinely want to challenge extremists must also condemn the wild conspiracy theories about the malevolent power of Jews, about the West’s aim to destroy Islam, about Muslims being wronged by the evil actions of the West? When did we last hear a leader say it’s not good enough to condemn terror attacks in London, then feed an ideology by siding with those who set off suicide bombs on Israel?

As Cameron said: “No one becomes a terrorist from a standing start.” Conspiracy theories feed the extremist narrative.

Cameron is right to condemn the grievance mindset and the victimhood mentality adopted by many Muslim groups and exploited by Islamic State to attract followers. What Cameron failed to do was explore how the West itself encouraged victimhood complaints and grievance contests to flourish. While he pointed to the growing segregation of Muslims in schools and public housing, Cameron failed to admit the West’s pursuit of unbridled multiculturalism 40 years ago encouraged this segregation.

Whereas once we expected migrants to integrate into our culture, accept our values, multi­culturalism unshackled those cultural connections. Whereas 40 years ago, the only label that attached to a migrant was, for example, “new Australian”, multi­cul­turalism encouraged each migrant group to adopt a hyphenated identity that allowed cultural and moral relativism to flourish. And that unleashed identity politics and its close relatives, grievance games and equally spurious victimhood claims.

Cultural appeasement emasculates our values. It means that in Australia, the Abbott government refused to deliver its promise to bolster free speech in this country. When Abbott dropped his pre-election promise to reform section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, an illiberal law that allows people to shut down words that are offensive or insulting, he said it was about preserving national unity and team Australia.

In fact, it was a political sop to those so-called community leaders who oppose moves to shore up free speech. Without a rock-solid commitment to free speech, important debates are stifled.

Cultural complacency explains the 10th annual Lowy Institute survey finding only 60 per cent of Australians, and just 42 per cent of young Australians aged 18 to 29, believe “democracy is preferable to any other kind of government”.

Cultural complacency explains the results of the Institute of Public Affairs’ recent report, The End of History … in Australian Universities, which found that while Australia’s political and cultural institutions have their origins in Britain, of the 739 history subjects taught in Australian universities last year, only 15 covered British history.

As the IPA’s John Roskam wrote last week, “There’s no space for economic history in any history department, but there is room for 15 film studies subjects, 14 feminism subjects and 12 sexuality subjects.”

Cultural appeasement has horrendous physical costs too. Cameron pointed to nearly 4000 cases of female genital mutilation reported in Britain last year and 11,000 cases of so-called honour-based violence in the past five years. And he added, these are just the reported cases.

We would be foolish to imagine the same evils are absent in ­Australia.

The British PM also condemned many British universities for pretending to be bastions of free speech but stifling intellectual debates when it matters. Cameron pointed out that the universities invite Holocaust denier David Irving onto a campus so they can rightly condemn him. But when an Islamic extremist spouts their evil ideology to university students, university leaders don’t say a word to challenge this ideological filth. Cameron denounced the “misguided liberalism and the cultural sensitivity”.

Once again, he should have added that 40 years ago a virulent strain of multiculturalism introduced freedom-loathing viruses into our societies. Only when we combat those viruses can we start reasserting confidence in our own culture — a crucial prerequisite for convincing others about the great virtues of living in a free society.


Free Speech and Truth Under Attack in Massachusetts

For the past two years, as a freelance writer for the New England press as well as nationally and locally, I have reported on a number of disconcerting trends which originated in New England, and now have started working their way nationally. The progressive agenda has encouraged the increased encroachment of the state into citizens’ private, and has taken on an unprecedented push in this region, one where Republicans and conservatives stood up against government sponsorship of human slavery and maintained long-standing resistance against Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Government school boards began in Massachusetts. Big Labor took on collective bargaining powers and found a firm stronghold in Rhode Island. Gay marriage began in New England, with Vermont sanctioning civil unions, followed by Massachusetts imposing gay marriage by judicial fiat. In the Bay State, the land where The American Revolution’s “shot heard round the world” was first fired, government bureaucracies, in collusion with Big Labor and Big Lawyers, have inculcated cronyism and corruption to unprecedented heights.

Massachusetts, now one of the most heavily dominated one-party Democratic states in the country, also passed laws preventing protests outside of abortion clinics. Even after the Supreme Court struck down those strictures because of their infringement on the First Amendment, former Governor Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley sought to reform the initial law in order to protect a woman’s “right to choose” (although not her right to speak).

State-sponsored laws have made war on families and freedom in other venues, too.

Two years ago, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families held young Justina Pelletier against her and her family’s will. Besides the ongoing work of local activities and Fox News anchor (and Presidential candidate) Mike Huckabee, no one knew about this Orwellian dystopia nightmare. Finally, after much pressure (including my reporting in the Worcester, MA media), Justina was released to another facility in her own state of Connecticut. The greatest failure in this disturbing case of government overreach? The widespread media failure not to report.

Following the judicial fiat imposition of gay marriage on the Commonwealth, the homosexual lobby worked its way into many facets of public life in Massachusetts. Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has promoted education materials to push the LGBT agenda into public education. In counter protest, Catholic teachers in California walked out of schools in refusal to condone same-sex marriage and conduct. Earlier, though, a Lexington, MA parent was arrested after he protested lessons on homosexuality in his son’s kindergarten class.

Now private industries, including the medical field, are embracing Gay Pride programs, even if it means bullying individual employees to comply with the activities or lose their jobs. ALthough Buzzfeed played up the imposition of gay marriage as a small, benign matter with happy festivities and “more love all around,” pro-family groups like Mass Resistance and TFP Student Action depict a more severe, less warm and fuzzy reality of what happened afterwards.

One current and distressing example of this concerns the case of Dr. Paul Church, an established urologist at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center and the administration which faulted him for his views on homosexual conduct, including his concerns about the medical implications of the behavior, and his resistance to participating in pro-gay pride activities promoted by the hospital.

Mass Resistance, the pro-life and pro-family group based in Boston, MA reported the following:

On March 30, a major Harvard-affiliated hospital in Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), expelled a well-respected urologist from its medical staff because he voiced concerns about the unhealthy nature of homosexual behavior and objected to the hospital’s aggressive promotion of “gay pride” activities.

Dr. Church has worked in a number of countries and worked on issues pertaining to sexual conduct and the consequences of high-risk behaviors. For over a decade, he voiced initial concerns about the hospital’s investment and promotion in “Gay Pride” activities. He and his like-minded colleagues first met token opposition, even ridicule. Despite the initial backlash, Dr. Church proceeded to report the medical concerns as well as the moral opprobrium connected with homosexual behavior. Read this timeline for more information. He faced tighter sanctions from the administrators, including one who was eventually forced to resign following immoral dalliances with a subordinate. They eventually imposed a gag order on the doctor. Finally, he was asked to resign, then summarily terminated.

Mass Resistance commented: This is outrageous. A respected physician – particularly one on the staff of Harvard Medical School and a major hospital – should not have his career essentially ended because he’s simply telling the truth.

Aside from the Patch news service, and a report from the Boston Business Journal, the Massachusetts media, liberal and conservative, have reported nothing on this trampling of freedom of speech. Following press inquiries to Liberty Counsel, the law firm representing Dr. Church in his upcoming appeal, media personnel responded that they are not issuing press releases until after the appellate hearing, in compliance with Massachusetts law.

The Boston Business Journal reports: "Dr. Church has objected to the promotion of homosexuality because of the inherent dangers of homosexual activity," Mast said. "... Dr. Church has repeatedly made known his objections (to homosexuality) in a medical capacity, and his wishes that he not be the recipient of these (LGBT events) based on his Christian-based beliefs. Both of those requests have been ignored."

Final Reflection

Perhaps Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was right, and the Supreme Court’s decision to create another right at the expense of others explicitly in the Constitution have transformed the judicial branch into “the greatest threat to American Democracy.”

Whatever one’s views about same-sex conduct or the role of the state in defining marriage, or a private institution’s knowledge or dissemination on either, a professional’s standing and career should not be in jeopardy for speaking one’s mind and voicing concerns on the subject.

Up to press time, media silence reigns over the Church controversy, as in the Justina Pelletier case. How much longer will these attacks on individual liberty continue unabated?


Women, Social Progress, and Mandated Diversity

Should the government require corporations to meet gender quotas for high-ranking jobs? In her latest op-ed, Independent Institute Research Fellow Abigail R. Hall takes issue with mandatory hiring policies—in place in Norway, Germany, and increasingly proposed for the United States—that require private businesses to set aside a certain percentage of top management jobs for women. Such policies are intended to help women, but in reality they have the opposite effect by causing the token hiring of people unqualified for the job, according to Hall.

“Gender preference may help us get our foot in the door, but sets women up to fail,” Hall writes in the Daily Caller. “Again, this is not to say that women are inferior to men, but that these policies place women into positions for which they are unprepared.”

Hall suggests that vote-hungry politicians such as Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election, might drum up enough public support for such legislation that Congress would pass it. Such gender requirements not only would lead to hiring mismatches that ultimately harm their intended beneficiaries, according to Hall, but they would also foster doubts about many women who actually possess the skills needed to succeed in top management. Moreover, gender set-asides “send a negative message to women, telling them they are less than their male counterparts, that without a government mandate, women can’t get the jobs they may want,” Hall writes.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New fathers become sexist after birth of first child: Study shows their views on care and housework become 'significantly more conservative'

Realism strikes eventually

New fathers become significantly more sexist following the birth of their first child as their attitude to women's roles in care and housework become more conservative, a new study has found.

The study of 1,800 new parents in Australia found many new fathers quickly take on more stereotypical views regarding motherhood following the birth of their first child.

It also found new mothers are conflicted within themselves about their views on work and motherhood.

It found that when their first child is born, both men and women grow more traditional in their gender attitudes towards mothering - but these changes in gender beliefs are significantly different for each sex, creating a range of issues.

The new parents were asked their opinions on a series of statements about parenthood before and after the birth of their first child and rated them on a score of one to seven, where one signifies strong agreement and seven strong disagreement. 

Both sexes changed their previous views to support more strongly the ideas that a woman’s main role is being a mother, that mothers should work only if they need the money, and that young children should not stay in childcare for prolonged periods of time.

However, despite the apparent contradiction, women also believed more strongly than they did before the birth that working women can be just as good caregivers as stay-at-home mothers. 

Meanwhile new fathers became more consistently traditional in their views on gender roles and were less likely than before to agree that men and women in dual-earner couples should share housework and childcare equally.

They were more likely to agree that a working mother is less able than a stay-at-home mother to establish a bond with her child.

The study was carried out by Australian social scientist Janeen Baxter and her findings were published today on the Children and Family blog.

She found that new mothers appear to 'hold onto a broadened personal identity, albeit with some internal contradictions' because of the difficulties of combining paid work with their ideal of stay-at-home mothering.

In contrast, new fathers appear to shrink women’s identities as workers, shifting to a more traditional view of women as caring mothers and housekeepers.

Professor Baxter wrote: 'As a sociologist, I am disinclined to support a biological explanation, because such sexist shifts do not occur in some, particularly non-western, societies, where care of young children is more equally shared, not just between men and women but across communities.

'It seems more likely that the way we organise work, parental leave arrangements, public services for children, schools and social networks create structural barriers to involved fatherhood and also encourage the traditional social construction of women’s mothering role.

'Whether you are male or female, you have to be very confident and persistent against overwhelming odds not to conform amid such powerful messaging.' 

The report added that welfare benefits introduced by most western governments prioritise the mother’s role around the birth while simultaneously encouraging them back into the workforce.

Professor Baxter said that an explanation rooted in social pressure also fits the apparently contradictory attitudes that many women express about work and motherhood.

The report concluded that governments should help by providing greater support to parents and employers to provide leave arrangements, social services and financial assistance 'to allow parents to develop work-parenting arrangements that suit their specific needs at different stages of the parenting cycle'.


UK: A newspaper bans its own Nick Cave story – the Twittermob strikes again

The ease with which mobs can demolish content is terrifying

The power of the Twittermob has officially crossed the line from ‘worrying’ to ‘terrifying’. Yesterday, these ready offence-takers, these always primed chest-beaters over words and images that don’t gel with the moral outlook of the Twitterati, managed to get a newspaper article expunged from the internet, shoved down the memory hole, made into an un-article so that it would never again offend their sensibilities. And they destroyed the article with such swiftness that many people won’t even have noticed that it happened. But it did happen, and we need to talk about it.

The article appeared in the print edition of The Times yesterday. It was about the tragic death of Arthur Cave, son of singer Nick Cave. Arthur fell from a cliff in Brighton on Tuesday. Under the headline ‘Let your children feel fear, Cave urged before son’s death’, The Times news item pointed out that, in an interview with the magazine Kill Your Darlings published just last week, Nick Cave talked about the importance of allowing children to feel fear, where the adult ‘must stand back and let the child decide’. The Times piece wasn’t especially gratuitous or insulting to Cave; indeed, it said he had ‘spoke[n] poignantly about his anxiety at seeing his children face up to danger’. It was basically pointing to the horrible irony of the fact that, in the space of a fortnight, Cave had talked about allowing children to ‘face down… a terrifying situation’, which he described as ‘one of the most moving things an adult, particularly a parent, can witness’, and then had to bear the loss of his son in a terrifying situation. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism? No. Horribly offensive? No.

But the itchy fingers and intolerant minds of the Twittermob weren’t having it. They branded The Times’ article an intrusion into Cave’s grief and unleashed fury and expletives against it. One, a Guardian journalist, said The Times were ‘fucking creeps’, and the article was ‘baseless, pointless, insinuating shit’. The storm built and others were soon raging against this ‘appalling’, ‘disgraceful’, ‘cheap and tacky’, ‘vile’, ‘pointlessly cruel’, ‘shameful’ article. What the Twittermob lacks in level-headed reason it more than makes up for with angry adjectives. One member of the Twittermob even unsubscribed from The Times and wrote an open letter explaining why, because what’s the point in making a Big Moral Statement about your implacable decency if you don’t then advertise it to the whole internet? (What’s with all the open letters these days? Someone should write an open letter telling all the irritants writing open letters to please stop.)

‘Shameful’ was the most common word hurled at The Times. It should be ‘ashamed’ for having published that article. ‘Bloody ashamed’, in fact. Some contacted the individual journalists who wrote the article to inquire if they were feeling ashamed, which they bloody well should have been. The Twittermob, like a fuming priest, loves nothing better than to induce feelings of shame in any hack / troll / misspeaker who says something odd, outré or offensive. ‘SHAME!’ they scream, like pulpit-dwellers of old keen to make their dumb ignorant flock feel awful about something they said or did.

And here’s the terrifying thing: the Twittermob’s blanket of shame cast over The Times yesterday actually worked. The Times removed the article from its website. Which means people can no longer read it. Oh, let’s call a spade a spade - the article has been banned. And banned, it seems, at the behest of a noisy online mob. As the Guardian put it, ‘Times newspaper removes Nick Cave story after online complaints’. ‘Online complaints’ - nice. Makes it sounds like people politely filled in a form saying ‘This article was upsetting’, when in truth they fucked and cunted at The Times and invited these ‘scum suckers’ to feel great shame about their ‘vileness’. And The Times bowed to them. It said its story was ‘inappropriate’ and would no longer be available for the public to read. (But The Times has ‘yet to issue a public apology’, complains the Guardian. Because even self-censorship isn’t enough for the shame-spreaders of Twitter. They want contrition, regret, expressed as publicly as possible, as was done by misspeakers in the Soviet Union.)

Having won the obliteration of a piece of written material that offended them, the Twittermob then gloated. Fashion writer Eva Wiseman cheered The Times’ self-squishing of its offensive article ‘after everybody in the world just screwed up their faces like “ffs”’. The arrogance, not to mention self-delusion, is astounding. ‘Everybody in the world’? This Twittermob was a tiny collective of ageing rock critics, bored online offence-hunters, and Murdoch-loathers. I’d say it was closer to 70 people than seven billion.

The memory-holing of a newspaper article in the space of a few hours, following yelps of outrage from tens of touchy people, is a scary sign of the times. It points to the post-Leveson symbiotic relationship between the outraged content-policers of Twitter and an increasingly cagey press. The climate stoked in recent years by both informal Twittermobs and formal inquisitions into the culture and ethics of the press has had a chilling effect on media debate, making newspapers more cautious and self-censoring. Whether it’s the Observer pulling a Julie Burchill column after Twitter-based trans activists went mad about it, or The Economist officially unpublishing a book review on slavery after a Twittergang branded it offensive, or The Times wiping one of its own news reports on Nick Cave in response to ‘online complaints’, a clear message has been sent: big media publications will destroy their own material if you, small but vocal Twittermob, judge it to be offensive. Well done, media: you’ve empowered the intolerant Twittermob; you’ve green-lighted their unwieldy, free-floating censoriousness, which can strike anywhere, anytime.

For the record, I love Nick Cave, the suavest, most talented man in popular music. And I think his comments about allowing children to experience fear, and decide for themselves on the best course of action to take, were searingly sensible in this era of cotton-wool kids, when we seek to protect children from everything. And the awful death of his son does nothing whatsoever to detract from the rightness and humanity of his comments. I also haven’t been a massive fan of some of the press coverage of his son’s death, especially the publication of photos of Nick and his wife visiting the spot where Arthur fell.

But you know what? I would far rather live in a country in which the press publishes daft articles and offensive photos than a country in which infinitesimally small groups of professional furies can demolish opinion columns, book reviews, news pieces and any other written thing that upsets them. A free press that sometimes does dumb things is so much better than a press that can overnight be induced to self-flagellation and self-censorship by the new moral guardians. Because if we have the latter, then we’re essentially okaying tyranny, allowing tiny groups of the self-righteous to sit in judgement on which media content is ‘appropriate’ and which is ‘inappropriate’. Oh, the irony: the Twittermob loves to heap shame on the offensive, yet it does something way more shameful - it reintroduces censorship by the backdoor, in the most slippery language imaginable, dressing up its censorious fury as ‘online complaints’.


Canada’s Twitter scandal: arrested for political comments

A Canadian feminist wants her Twitter critic convicted of harassment

I remember a popular saying from my childhood: ‘She can dish it out, but she can’t take it.’ A court case unfolding in Toronto has dishing as its main theme: Steph Guthrie, a 30-year-old feminist activist, has accused Greg Elliott, a 54-year-old father of four, of criminal harassment via Twitter.

Guthrie and Elliott met online when Elliott, a graphic designer, offered to make a free poster for Women in Toronto Politics, a group co-founded by Guthrie. An IRL (in real life) meeting followed, a meeting wherein Guthrie was put off by Elliott’s intensity, claiming she saw a ‘creepy glint’ in his eye. She remained cordial with him, however; a state of affairs she puts down to simple business etiquette.

Things changed when a face-punch game targeting Anita Sarkeesian appeared online. Guthrie took to Twitter and tried to ‘sic the internet’ on Ben Spurr, the Ontario man who’d created it. Elliott tweeted her urging caution, saying an internet campaign could lead the 24-year-old gamer to suicide. Elliott also suggested that Guthrie’s actions would only provide more publicity for Spurr, a valid point given Guthrie’s 8,000-odd Twitter followers and the gamer’s measly 11. (For those of you who don’t know, Sarkeesian is a prominent feminist critic of videogames and an opponent of #Gamergate, an online campaign to maintain freedom of expression in the gaming world.)

A falling out between Guthrie and Elliott followed, with Elliott continuing to monitor Guthrie’s account and the hashtags associated with it. This behaviour was visible to Guthrie and apparently bothered her, but it is also common on Twitter, given the way the social-media site is configured. In response, Guthrie convened an IRL meeting with activist friends to determine how best to deal with Elliott.

A meeting like this may sound reasonable, but it was, in fact, an overreaction: the scope of Elliott’s behaviour was manageable, made up of harmless words confined to cyberspace. At no time did he, in person or online, utter threats or make sexual comments directed at Guthrie or her two joint complainants. Elliott disagreed with Guthrie’s politics, warned her not to go after Spurr and, when the twittering took a harsh turn, uttered some insults. However, these were words, not actions, and did not pose any real threat to Guthrie or her friends.

What Guthrie’s sensitivity highlights is a problem in our harassment law: her fears alone were enough to adjudicate the issue in criminal court, a step that lost Elliott his job and had the kind of real-life impact she hoped to inflict on Spurr. So what alarms observers is the impact this broad interpretation of the law will have on free speech in Canada. After all, if just saying one is afraid becomes the only requirement for an arrest, the potential for abuse is significant.

For example, a singular arrest might be warranted or simply strategic, but the greater consequence – that of silencing those engaged in public debate – is the real problem. Guthrie’s case against Elliott seems largely strategic: her claims that she feared for her safety are dubious given her history of pleasant exchanges with him and her spirited demeanour in court, a combination she explains with the self-serving apology: ‘I’m sorry I wasn’t the perfect victim.’

Victim or not, a small detail in the conflict is telling: one step in the accelerating conflict between Guthrie and Elliott was a disagreement over reporter Daniel Dale’s coverage of then Toronto mayor, Rob Ford. In one incident, Dale scouted municipally owned land adjacent to Ford’s home after Ford applied to purchase it. He turned up one evening and, according to Ford, climbed up a pile of cinder blocks to peer over his backyard fence. What followed were colourful characterisations made by the Ford camp, most of which painted Dale as a peeping tom and had resonances of mild locker-room humour. It’s safe to say that no one, apart from Dale, took the characterisations seriously.

So when Dale took legal action, a step that netted him a public apology, he looked like a poor sport. In this sense, Dale and Guthrie seem cut from the same cloth: both deployed legal strategies to counter annoying behaviour they’d provoked, a step pointing to highly curated versions of reality. That is, they may be intelligent and socially engaged, but they are also unwilling to see their part in conflicts or distinguish real threats from imagined ones. The simple fact that they are irritated is enough to get the law, the ultimate helicopter parent, involved. This would be amusing were it not so costly to Canadian taxpayers.

For example, Dale’s nighttime surveillance of the mayor’s property was provocative, given the steady vitriol he aimed at Ford. Had a subordinate of the mayor directed that same behaviour at a single mother, Dale’s supporters would undoubtedly define it as stalking and characterise it as sinister. Ditto Guthrie’s planned campaign against Elliott: she and her friends discussed battering his Twitter followers with repeated warnings, they created an insulting parody account, and implicated him in illegal sexual activity (they tweeted as a 13-year-old claiming to be his abuse victim). Had these real-life consequences been levelled at Guthrie and her gang, what kind of recourse would they have sought?

And this is when Guthrie’s own words about Spurr’s potential suicide are revealing. Asked if she wanted Spurr destroyed, she said, ‘I don’t cheer for someone to kill himself… but again, he made that [Sarkeesian] game, under his own name. He can deal with whatever the consequences are.’ This might sound fair, but the capacity reasonably to judge crimes and their appropriate consequences is a capacity Guthrie lacks. Even with her evenhanded reporting of events, the National Post’s Christie Blatchford had this to say about the young woman:

‘[Guthrie’s] also genuinely alarming, because she believes, as she testified Friday, in internet vigilante justice — “extrajudicial action”, as she called it once — even if it might put the target’s physical safety at risk.’

So the case against Elliott is really about the relative scale of transgressions and how they play out in cyberspace. This raises specific issues. How should we judge the slacktivist nature of Spurr’s and Elliott’s actions (Spurr’s creation of an imaginary game and Elliott’s observations, his comments and insults)? By contrast, how should we judge the IRL collusion involved in Guthrie’s attempts to shame Spurr and Elliott for their actions?

If I was Guthrie or Sarkeesian, and I had to choose enemies, I’d go with Spurr and Elliott. Spurr’s game may be unpleasant, but it’s imaginary. Elliott’s comments might be irritating, but Twitter does come with a blocking function.

In the end, there’s a big difference between monitoring a social-media account and standing on the edge of a person’s property, peering into their home. There’s also a big difference between pointing, clicking and typing and convening a meeting to determine what extrajudicial (and potentially illegal) punishments might effectively discredit an opponent.

This is what Judge Brent Knazan, and indeed all Canadians, must judge: of Guthrie and Elliott, whose actions were more fearsome?


Turning slavery into the West’s original sin

Today's obsession with slavery has more to do with misanthropy than history.

Once upon a time, the historical past was an object of veneration and glorification. A nation’s past was often represented as a heroic age, and public figures used to invoke the Good Old Days. But today, the past, national or otherwise, has come to serve a very different purpose. It is invariably presented as a story shaped by malevolence, oppression, exploitation and abuse. It forms a past that demands condemnation, a past of which we are meant to be ashamed. Such sentiments are not confined to a small number of sensation-seeking historians. Popular culture is now dominated by a sense of the past as the Bad Old Days.

Though history is occasionally still used as a PR tool, an instrument of national glorification, it is far more likely to function as a cautionary tale about the moral failings of humanity in general, and British society in particular. The past has become a means for the moral condemnation of people living in the present. Even the horrors of slavery are summoned up to indict and implicate the contemporary world.

Historic slavery as popular entertainment

The transformation of the tragic era of the Atlantic slave trade into a current-affairs item serves as an example of the way in which history is being converted into a moral indictment of the present. There is now a veritable industry in highlighting people’s family connections to their eighteenth- and nineteenth-century slave-owning ancestors. The implication of all this is clear: your appalling ancestors and their inhuman behaviour defines who you really are.

Earlier this year, Hollywood star Ben Affleck fully played the part of the guilt-ridden progeny of slave owners. When he agreed to participate in US reality-TV show Finding Your Roots, he did not expect to discover that he was related to slave-owning ancestors. That he then lobbied the show to ditch references to his embarrassing relatives shows that Affleck had fully internalised the conviction that he, as an individual, would be judged by the standards of behaviour of his long-deceased ancestors.

It is not only in the US that the media revel in exposing the connection between prominent individuals and nineteenth-century slave owners. A new online archive of slave owners – part of the Legacies of British Slave Ownership project – has become a resource used by tabloids to embarrass celebs and other public figures. Take the ‘scoop’ from Brighton’s Argus newspaper in April 2013: it informed readers that the ancestors of Samantha Cameron, Lord Gage of Firle Place, Brighton Rock author Graham Greene and Lord Hailsham were all slave owners. It triumphantly announced that ‘while it has already been revealed that an ancestor of David Cameron was a slave owner’, it was ‘not widely known that a distant ancestor of Samantha Cameron, was also a slave owner’.

The language used by the Argus is self-consciously in the mould of yellow journalism. The past is ‘revealed’, and, in true tabloid fashion, the article signs off with ‘Mrs Cameron declined to comment’. The implication of this ‘declined to comment’ is that Samantha Cameron was either rightly humiliated or else has something sordid to hide.

In January, a Daily Mail headline ran: ‘Pictured: brutal Barbados slave plantation where Benedict Cumberbatch’s ancestors built their multimillion-pound fortune on backs of “250 negroes”.’ Just to make its readers aware of actor Cumberbatch’s moral failings, the Mail helpfully informed them that it ‘can show pictures of inside the plantations where hundreds of men and women toiled as slaves while [Cumberbatch’s] ancestors reaped the rewards’. Readers are also told that Cumberbatch had already performed the necessary act of contrition – he had ‘revealed his shame at his family history’.

You don’t need a PhD in media studies to know that when you read a Telegraph headline that says ‘Slaves at the root of the fortune that created Richard Dawkins’ family estate’, the subsequent account will not be very sympathetic. ‘The ancestors of Richard Dawkins, the atheist campaigner against superstition, intolerance and suffering, built their fortune using slaves, it has been revealed’, noted the Telegraph. The purpose of this statement is to highlight the contrast between the lofty values upheld by Dawkins and the sordid details of his ancestral origins. His beliefs are not contested through argument; they are morally devalued through Dawkins’ origins.

The Telegraph contemptuously draws attention to a man who has ‘rallied against the evils of religion, and lectured the world on the virtues of atheism’. But now, we are told, Dawkins ‘the secularist campaigner against “intolerance and suffering” must face an awkward revelation: he is descended from slave owners and his family estate was bought with a fortune created by forced labour’. The only conclusion to be drawn from the Mail story is that Dawkins’ protests against suffering are the hypocritical musings of a self-serving beneficiary of an ill-gained fortune.

Disorienting the present

The opportunistic manipulation of historical memory is not confined to the score-settling impulse of sections of the media. A recently aired BBC programme, Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, made a genuine effort to deal with the historical past in a serious manner. Nevertheless, it couldn’t help but implicate contemporary Britain in the ancestral legacy of the slave trade. It stressed the all-pervasive nature of slave ownership, how it was normal, and pointed the finger at ordinary middle-class citizens who exploited slave labour. The focus on the normal and everyday aspect of slave ownership was about drawing attention to its all-pervasive character. This point was underlined by Nick Draper, co-director of the Legacies of British Slave Ownership project: ‘What has struck us [is the] accumulation of hundreds and eventually thousands of specific imprints left by slave owners across the whole country.’ He added that ‘very few towns or even villages in Britain have no historical connections at all with slave ownership’.

The claim that virtually all of Britain has a ‘historical connection’ with slave ownership is, in one sense, irrefutable. But historical connections are just that: historical. The attempt to mobilise historical connections to make a statement about the contemporary world requires more than a helpful reminder that many British people’s ancestors exploited slaves. The project of transforming the slave trade into Britain’s original sin is not about learning from the past; rather, it is about taking an epic human catastrophe out of context, and eroding the distinction between the present and the past.

The obsession with using an old injustice like slavery as an indictment of the present actually undermines our ability to grasp the historical specificity of the Atlantic slave trade. Modern-day slavery-hunters are remarkably uninterested in the past; their focus is on using historical connections to devalue individuals and communities in the present. A Freudian would call it a displacement activity – an activity that distracts attention from distinctly contemporary injustices.

Our estrangement from the past

Contemporary Western culture has become deeply estranged from its past traditions and history. The past, as we have seen, is often presented as a very dark place where human degradation, abuse, victimisation and genocide were normal features of daily life. One aim of this type of sanctimonious history is to create a moral distance between the present and the legacy of the past. The other objective is to convert the injustices of the past into a moral resource that can be used to claim attention, respect and authority.

If one judges the past in accordance with the norms, values and sensibilities of the present, then what people did in previous centuries will be almost entirely and automatically condemned. Many aspects of the codes of behaviour that guided the past conduct and behaviour of people would be unacceptable to people living in the 21st century. Attitudes and behaviour constantly change. Today, most people regard the physical chastisement of children as a form of abuse. Yet, not so long ago, the failure physically to punish a son was condemned by many as a symptom of parental irresponsibility.

Those who read history backwards in order to demonstrate their moral superiority over the behaviour of people in the past actually evade the question of how to gain moral clarity in relation to the challenges facing society today. Setting right the injustices of our time will not be done through confusing them with the misdeeds of the past.

In principle, one can condemn Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs for mistreating their slaves, or the numerous warlords and kings for massacring their prisoners. Anyone can give an hour-long sermon denouncing Christian pogroms against medieval Jewish communities, the Atlantic slave trade, the Armenian genocide, or the Holocaust.

For some, even remembrance is too provocative. They claim that the very act of commemorating a war is an act of militarism. Last year, for instance, a group of celebrities spearheaded something called the No Glory in War campaign. Fronted by actors Jude Law and Alan Rickman and pop-music boffin Brian Eno, No Glory in War was planning on holding a concert at the Barbican late last year protesting the commemoration of the Great War. ‘It was a total disaster that was unnecessary and destroyed a generation’, said Eno of the war. Who would disagree with such a banal statement? Who would stand up and say, ‘Actually, the Great War was fantastic’? Maybe No Glory in War should rebrand itself as a campaign to state the bleeding obvious.

What we need is an approach to history that respects the distinction between the present and the past; an approach that does not read history backwards or roll the past forward into a contemporary drama. Unfortunately, in a world fascinated by historical crimes, the Biblical sins of the father are interwoven with our own moral failings today. The result is confusion as to what constitutes our responsibility as human beings, and what does not.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lucky old Britain has a multicultural medical examiner

THE parents of murdered schoolgirl Alice Gross have spoken of their distress after a file containing highly sensitive details of the investigation was left on a train by a coroner.

The 30-page police document, which was never recovered, went missing in November, a month after the 14-year-old’s body was found in the River Brent, West London.

The police are said to have privately described the security lapse as ‘critical’, but Ros Hodgkiss and Jose Gross, Alice’s parents, knew nothing until a whistleblower came to The Mail on Sunday last week.

They said in a statement: ‘We have looked to the police and coroner to help us through our awful loss. Yet now we learn they [...] have withheld from us the loss of this terribly sensitive information about Alice.

‘We are extremely concerned, bewildered and angry – and we have asked for a full written explanation as to what exactly happened and why we were not told.’

Last night the Ministry of Justice said: ‘This clearly appears to be a troubling incident. A full investigation is now under way.’

Police warned senior coroner Chinyere Inyama – who is due to hold an inquest into Alice’s death later this year – not to remove the file from his office. But three sources have told this newspaper that Mr Inyama, 54, left it on a train, apparently discarding it along with magazines he had been reading.

One source said: ‘He [Mr Inyama] shouldn’t have taken any sensitive file out of the office. The potential for disaster in doing something like that is too great.’

Scotland Yard initially said that a single document went missing and that an investigation to recover it ‘concluded that it was highly likely it had been destroyed as waste’.

Supplied with further details of the incident, the spokesman added: ‘With regard to the other issues, I would refer you to the coroner.’

When contacted, Mr Inyama said: ‘You honestly don’t expect me to comment on this, do you?’

Earlier this month Alice’s family said the inquest should ask why police were unaware of her killer’s previous murder conviction and said there were ‘serious questions’ about why he was let into the UK.

Latvian Arnis Zalkalns, 41– who hanged himself before he could be arrested – murdered his wife in 1997. In 2007 he was arrested for a sex assault on a teenage girl in the UK but charges were not brought.

Alice went missing near her home in Hanwell, West London, last August. It was later revealed that Zalkalns used a brick-laden bicycle wheel and logs to pin her body to a riverbed after killing her in a sexually motivated attack.


People with a strong resistance to the idea of inborn sex differences tend to be academics, left-wing, childless

An evolutionary psychologist (EP) writes:

 In a study I conducted with my then-undergraduate student, Dan Gambacorta (2010), we found that many people have a strong resistance to accepting the idea of evolved behavioral sex differences. The kinds of people who are so resistant to this idea tended to be people who:

Are very politically liberal

Are academics (especially in the social sciences)

Have no children

These features are often characteristic of academics at many universities and colleges across the nation (especially, of course, being an academic!). So you can see that if EP is being conflated with the idea of evolved behavioral sex differences, and academics generally don’t like that idea, then these same academics might not like EP (see Geher, 2014, for a detailed treatment of this issue (link is external)).

Interestingly, our research found that, generally, academics had no problem with other facets of EP. For instance, the participants in the study were fine acknowledging that evolutionary explanations helped us understand the behavior of non-human animals such as dogs. Further, they acknowledged the utility of EP in helping us understand non-mating-related phenomena such as:

Fear of heights

Disgust at rotten food

The universal nature of human emotional expression

So … if EP is to overcome the resistance that it experiences among so many academics, perhaps the movers of the field need to re-market it a bit – emphasizing the fact that EP is NOT ALL ABOUT evolved behavioral sex differences – research on that topic is simply a slice of EP. EP is a way to understand any and all aspects of behavior.


UK: Tim Farron fell foul of the New Inquisition

Once, gay-rights activists fought orthodoxy - now they enforce it.

It was a dispiriting spectacle. Slumped and a bit sweaty, the newly elected Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, squirmed in his seat on Channel 4 News on Friday, repeatedly dodging Cathy Newman’s pointed questioning. But this wasn’t another exercise in wary, soundbite politicking – another party-political husk offering soft answers as he ‘waits for the report to come out’. No, this was something different, something grimmer.

For Newman wasn’t asking Farron about policy, law or his plans for the much-mocked #LibDemFightback. She was asking about his privately held beliefs. Farron, you see, is a Christian, and a proper one at that. In 2007, he called abortion a ‘tragedy’, and he abstained from voting on the gay-marriage bill in 2013, citing concerns about religious conscience. ‘Christianity’, he once said, ‘is not “a bit” true. It is either not true, or it is so compellingly, utterly true that almost nothing else matters’. None of that Magic FM in the Chilterns guff here.

For Newman, this was enough to call his entire legitimacy as a liberal into question. She asked whether he considered homosexuality a sin, to which he quite eloquently responded: ‘It’s not our views on religion that matter. What matters is whether we go out and fight for the freedom of every single individual to be who they want to be – and that’s what makes a liberal.’ Newman was unconvinced; she asked twice again.

An inevitable backlash followed. A two-minute Twitterhate broke out and then the MPs got stuck in, never missing an opportunity to land some cheap shots. ‘For a liberal, I thought his position seemed incredibly illiberal’, said Labour deputy-leadership hopeful Ben Bradshaw, echoing a prescient Times editorial the morning before the interview, pithily titled ‘Illiberal Democrat’.

Even those who remained sympathetic to Farron felt he was being unduly evasive and disingenuous. But, while Farron did go out of his way to shorn off his few remaining edges in the run up to the ballot – insisting that he supports gay marriage, expounding on transgender rights, and backtracking on abortion – he was not just dodging the question here. Rather, the question was irrelevant. Believing people should have the right to live their lives as they see fit, free from state-enforced morality or social coercion, is the essence of liberalism. That doesn’t mean you have to approve of how people choose to use their liberty. His private views, his superstitions, his God-bothering, have no bearing on his ability to govern – so long as he doesn’t go imposing them on others.

The shaming of Farron speaks to how distorted our conception of liberalism has become. No longer are we guided by the principle of true tolerance, of ‘as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, we’ll leave you to it’. Today, the mantra is ‘you are what you are – let’s throw a parade in your honour’. And, as Farron found out, those who refuse to join in the festivities can find themselves cast out of respectable society. Whether or not you choose to keep your heretical views to yourself seems to be irrelevant.

As Brendan O’Neill has pointed out previously on spiked, we live in an age of the New Inquisition, in which those who dare transgress the new, metropolitan orthodoxies of today, even in their most private of exchanges, are wont to be shamed, sacked and spat on. Last year, Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, found himself in hot water when his secretary leaked private emails containing jokey-sexist banter with his friends. Then there’s Donald Sterling, the former owner of the LA Clippers, who received a lifetime ban from the NBA after a recorded conversation of him making derogatory comments about black people made it to the press.

But as the gay-marriage campaign has reached new and intolerant heights across the West, one’s views on gay issues, in particular, have come to be the ultimate citizenship test for your inclusion in public life. In 2013, as the vote on gay marriage in the UK parliament loomed, gay-news sites transformed into a kind of rolling name-and-shame of crotchety peers, religious types and downright cranks who dared utter their disapproval. Last year, Brendan Eich was sacked as CEO of Mozilla when it was revealed he had donated money to anti-gay-marriage groups. And, since then, the intolerant campaign against the unbelievers has gathered pace.

The recent ‘gay cake’ scandal, in which campaigners from the group Queerspace hauled a Presbyterian-run bakery in Belfast before an equalities hearing for refusing to bake a pro-gay-marriage cake, marked a line in the sand. The case against Ashers bakery, funded to the tune of £38,000 by the Northern Ireland Equalities Commission, showed that campaigners don’t even need to rely on leaked, bigoted asides to crush their moral opponents. All they have to do is push the right buttons, probe them, make them show their hand, and the full force of moral opprobrium, and the full power of the courts, will come down upon them.

The tragedy here is that it wasn’t that long ago that the jackboot was on the other foot. As recently as the 1983 Bermondsey by-election, in which an intolerant and violent campaign was unleashed against Labour candidate and gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, one’s embrace of homosexuality could be used to exclude you from political life. Now, with the establishment and the courts beholden to a skewed notion of equality, this intolerant process is playing out once more - only now it’s those who question any aspect of homosexuality who are cast out.

The Enlightened impulse behind gay liberation was the idea that one’s private life and proclivities should have no bearing on how you are treated in the public sphere. Today, this ideal has been thoroughly trashed by a new secular elite, a ‘new clerisy’, as Joel Kotkin has described it, which emulates the old intolerance in the name of liberty. Farron is the latest target; he won’t be the last.


Woman barred from taking needlepoint on jury service... in case she uses it as a weapon (!)

It is surely one of the most ladylike and genteel of hobbies.

But former Royal aide and sewing fanatic Sandy Marsh was barred from taking her needlepoint to court while on jury service – because it would make her ‘a security risk’.

‘They said the needle – which is less than 2in long – could be used as a weapon,’ said Mrs Marsh. ‘It’s ludicrous. What about common sense and discretion?’

The 63-year-old grandmother, who was decorated by the Queen for dedicated public service, hardly fits the classic criminal stereotype.

She was Prince Charles’s Press Secretary for seven years, worked for the Metropolitan Police for 14 years and was vetted to work at Downing Street, the Ministry of Defence and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Her husband, Bob Marsh, is an ex-Scotland Yard commander who was responsible for the Royal Family’s security as head of the Royal and Diplomatic Protection Department. Yet the court was unyielding in its interpretation of security rules.

Following her summons to Guildford Crown Court in Surrey, Mrs Marsh received a booklet which suggested bringing ‘a personal pastime’ because of the amount of waiting around outside court.

There was also a note saying that sharp objects such as knives were not allowed in the court building and would be confiscated. The only exception was the kirpan, the religious sword carried by sikhs.

‘I didn’t think for a minute that needlework would fall into this category, but I rang the court just to be sure,’ said Mrs Marsh.

Court officials insisted the needle would indeed be confiscated if Mrs Marsh brought it to court so she decided to raise the matter with the HM Courts and Tribunals Service, an agency of the Ministry of Justice. She added: ‘I said I had a police background and I couldn’t believe this was the case.’

Refusing to give up, she contacted the Ministry of Justice where, bizarrely, she was told to submit a Freedom of Information request in order to find out who to raise the issue with.

In a statement the HM Courts and Tribunals Service said: ‘We have a robust security system to protect court users. Any item a security officer deems to be potentially dangerous will be confiscated on entry.’



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Monday, July 27, 2015

Notorious Holocaust denier David Irving tells secret rally 'the RAF are war criminals'

Irving's view that the Anglo-American air-raids on Hamburg and Dresden in the closing phases of WWII were a war-crime is not unusual. A wide range of people see it that way.  The raids killed a lot of civilians with little obvious effect or hope of effect on the German war-effort

And Irving is actually a very knowlegeable historian on Germany in the '30s and '40s.  He was the only one able to identify the Kujau "diaries" as a fake from the get-go

Many people have suggested that he is more a provocateur than anything else and I agree with that.  He loves publicity and outraging people -- and his claims have got him heaps of that. He has travelled the world for decades generating controversy wherever he goes. One of his provocations was to have his car painted brown and then declare  the color as "N*gger brown".  He undoubtedly enjoyed the howls over that.  

So I am inclined to think that his minimization of the death camps is mainly a stunt designed to get people to adopt a more critical and hence a hopefully more balanced view of WWII.  And the need for a more balanced view is huge.  Just the claim that Hitler was "right-wing" is a towering lie

Sadly, however, it is only very marginal people who are willing to listen to him.  He does not himself appear to be a member of any extremist group

Convicted Holocaust denier David Irving addressed fascist sympathisers and neo Nazis at a secret meeting in London yesterday.

Irving, a historian who famously lost a libel case after denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers, was the star speaker at an event that attracted an audience of 120 Right-wing sympathisers, including women and teenagers.

Behind closed doors at a four-star hotel in South Kensington, the discredited author gave a speech condemning the Second World War Allied bombing campaign over Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe as ‘a war crime’.

Irving’s contentious speech was titled: ‘Saturation Bombing in World War II – who is to blame?’

An invitation to the event, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, states: ‘David Irving is the world’s MOST respected historian, he’s the world’s TOP expert on World War II.’

But he was widely discredited after his high-profile libel trial and being sentenced to three years imprisonment by an Austrian court in 2006 for denying the Holocaust.

The secret meeting will add to concerns that far-Right groups are trying to garner support in London and Europe amid a rise in austerity and Islamic terrorism.

It comes just three months after The Mail on Sunday exposed a similar meeting of far-Right figures from around the world, organised by the same group, who call themselves the London Forum.

Anti-fascist campaigner Gerry Gable condemned Irving’s appearance at the latest in a ‘growing series of closed international far-Right extremist conferences’.

Former Spandau prison worker Abdallah Melaouhi, self-described ‘best friend’ of Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, was also a speaker at yesterday’s event.

Also present was Arkadiusz Rzepinski, leader of the Polish nationalist party, NOP, in England.

The invitation told those wishing to attend the meeting to call a mobile number at 8am yesterday. Those who rang were told to meet at South Kensington Tube station at 11am, where they were greeted by retired teacher and known fascist supporter Michael Woodbridge.

They were then led to the four-star Rembrandt Hotel, opposite the Victoria and Albert museum.

Attendees filed into the St James function room, which the group had booked out in a different name, from 11.30am – some wearing tweed and blazers, others in khaki trousers and black T-shirts with the logo of fascists groups including the far-Right Greek group Golden Dawn.

Among the paying attendees were British National Party members and Polish nationalist skinheads wearing camouflage – complete with boots and chains – who filed through the lobby past bemused hotel guests. About 10 women attended and one man brought his teenage daughter.

In 1996, Irving sued Professor Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin books for defamation after being called a Holocaust denier. Irving lost the very high-profile case, which cost him a reported £2 million.

At the trial the judge said Irving had deliberately misinterpreted and distorted facts. The judge said: ‘It is my conclusion that no objective, fair-minded historian would have serious cause to doubt that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz and that they were operated on a substantial scale to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews.’

In parts of Europe Holocaust denial is a criminal offence and in 2006, an Austrian court sentenced Irving to three years in prison after he made speeches denying the Nazis used gas chambers. He later said he had revised some of his views.

The respected historian and broadcaster Andrew Roberts said: ‘It is depressing that such a meeting should take place in the 21st Century. The idea of treating David Irving as a historian at all is absurd.

‘He doesn’t have the right to call himself that. Historians think of him as a Nazi propagandist and they have the backing of the High Court.’

Speaking in German, with translation provided by Irving, Melaouhi told the crowd about his time working as a prison nurse. He attended to Hess between 1982 and 1987 when Hess was held prisoner in Spandau, Germany, for war crimes.

Hess, Hitler’s deputy who during the Second World War was held prisoner after his plane crashed in Scotland in 1941, hanged himself in 1987. Melaouhi claimed Hess was murdered and released a book about him, describing him as ‘a man of great vision, intelligence and compassion’.

In April, we exposed a similar meeting of the London Forum where the star speaker was Spanish self-confessed Nazi Pedro Varela.

He was arrested in Austria for praising Hitler in 1992 and declared to a baying crowd in Madrid on the centenary of the Fuhrer’s birthday: ‘There were never any gas chambers in Auschwitz.’

Also present was America’s leading peddler of revisionism, Mark Weber, 63, director of the right-wing Institute for Historical Review.

Gerry Gable of anti-fascist magazine Searchlight said: ‘This conference is another piece of evidence of a growing series of closed international far-right extremist Conferences.

‘The core movers range from elderly Holocaust deniers to well-educated men and women who are being trained in ideologies of hate and being made ready for potential acts of terrorism.’


Will the British PM destroy free speech in an effort to save it?

By Peter Hitchens

Is David Cameron the man who will destroy freedom in order to save it? His strange, wild speech on Monday suggests that he is. Mr Cameron, as careful observers already know, has a surprisingly poor grasp of history and politics and does not seem to be very clever.

The reception given to his outburst was mostly friendly, all across what is supposed to the spectrum of media opinion – though increasingly it is not a spectrum but a monolithic bloc.

Did they read it? I did. It is full of seething organic free-range tripe.

He actually tries to pretend that Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War has had nothing to do with the development of resentful Islamist militancy here. He does this by saying that the September 11 attack on Manhattan took place before the Iraq War.

Indeed it did. It was motivated – as one of the hijackers, Abdulaziz al-Omari, made clear in his own recorded testament – by Arab fury over America’s support for Israel, and the continued presence of US troops on Saudi soil. And it succeeded in changing US policy on both.

Terror is rational. Terrorists know that it works, or why has the USA started supporting the two-state solution in Israel which it long opposed, and why is Martin McGuinness invited to Windsor Castle these days?

If Mr Cameron doesn’t like terrorism, then he wouldn’t have met Mr McGuinness and the even ghastlier IRA mouthpiece, Gerry Adams, at Downing Street last week. But he did. How can that be if, as the Prime Minister says, ‘British resolve saw off the IRA’s assaults on our way of life’. Oddly, you only saw the pictures of this pair meeting [Leftist] Jeremy Corbyn on the same day. The Downing Street meeting was not, it seems, filmed.

But that’s only a part of the problem. Mr Cameron claimed that we have, in this country, a ‘very clear creed’. But do we?

He says: ‘We are all British. We respect democracy and the rule of law. We believe in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of worship, equal rights regardless of race, sex, sexuality or faith.’

Little of this is true. Few regard themselves as British any more. Votes are bought by billionaire donations and incredibly expensive marketing. Democracy is surely not respected by the growing legions who don’t vote. And, as Mr Cameron acknowledged, there are now areas of this country where votes are rigged and voters intimidated for the first time since the days of Dickens.

Freedom of speech, for those who don’t accept multiculturalism or the sexual revolution, is increasingly limited, mainly by threats to the jobs of those who speak out of turn.

Mr Cameron is also plain wrong when he says our freedom stems from democracy. Democracy these days involves agreeing with whatever slogans the Murdoch press is shouting.

Our freedom comes from the 1689 Bill of Rights, which he doesn’t seem to know exists, from Magna Carta, which he can’t translate, from Habeas Corpus, which has been whittled away on the excuse of counter-terrorism, and from jury trial, which is fast disappearing. Freedom of speech certainly can’t be defended by banning ‘hate-preachers’, which Mr Cameron is so proud of doing. Freedom of speech is freedom above all for those whose views you dislike most.

Nor can it be strengthened by demanding that people publicly declare that they don’t hold certain opinions. Mr Cameron actually said: ‘We must demand that people also condemn the wild conspiracy theories, the anti-Semitism, and the sectarianism too. Being tough on this is entirely in keeping with our values’.

How on earth is he going to make this happen? Electric shocks until they get their minds right? Personally, I’d much rather know that such people held these frightful views, than have them forced to pretend they didn’t.

Then there is: ‘We need to put out of action the key extremist influencers who are careful to operate just inside the law, but who clearly detest British society and everything we stand for.’

Put out of action? If they are inside the law, which protects the freedom Mr Cameron so values, what does this foggy phrase mean? Sandbagging them as they come out of the mosque?

I’m also not very reassured that we have a Premier who thinks he can advise TV companies on who they should and should not invite on to the airwaves. I think we can all see where that leads.

Mr Cameron and Mr Blair, and their predecessors over decades, have gone a long way towards Islamising this country through uncontrolled immigration and state multiculturalism. They have begun to panic, because they at last realise what they have done, and rightly fear they cannot stop it.


Plans for a Gay Pride Parade Through Muslim Areas in Sweden

No, this is not satire.  On July 29, a gay pride parade is scheduled in Sweden.  But, you see, this is no ordinary gay pride parade.  This gay pride parade was created by Jan Sjunnesson, former editor-in-chief for the Samtiden newspaper in Sweden, which is owned by the nationalist Sweden Democrats party (for our Canadian readers, think of the Sweden Democrats as being kind of like the Conservatives or the Canadian Action Party, which means that they’re considered “extreme far-right” in Sweden). The parade is scheduled to go through Tensta and Husby – two areas where Muslim immigrants are more than 75% of the population.

On the event’s Facebook page, the organizers state that there will be public “kissing” and “singing”.

The Facebook page is absolutely filled with angry comments from leftists, attacking the “xenophobic right-wing nationalists” for organizing a gay pride parade through Muslim areas. Since Islam holds that gays should be executed, something like this is obviously an attack on Muslims and should therefore be outlawed. At least, that’s what Swedish leftists – and, indeed, Swedish gays – are saying.

Leftists are organizing a counter-demonstration against this gay pride parade. Yes, really.

    To place an LGBT parade to the suburbs dominated by immigrants from the Middle East, however, is an expression of pure racism, according to critics. [Muslims are a race??]

Many leftists are also calling for the parade to be legally banned, and for the people who organized it to be arrested for “hate speech” against Muslims.

Gay pride parades in Europe generally don’t go anywhere near Muslim areas, for obvious reasons.  In Nørrebro, Copenhagen (where only 30% of the population are Muslim, as opposed to the more than 75% in the Swedish areas), gay pride parades learned the hard way not to tread within Islamic strongholds.

Formerly, there was a large gay pride parade that went through Nørrebrogade (the main high street of the area). Gays would take stones to the head every year from Muslims, so they re-routed. If gays are attacked in an area that’s only 30% Muslim, just imagine what will happen in an area that’s over 75% Muslim. There is a 100% chance that the gays marching through Tensta and Husby will be attacked, maybe even fatally – and, when they’re attacked, feminists and gay rights activists will be siding with the Muslims who are attacking them.

So, there you have it, folks.  When it comes to the Oppression Olympics, Muslims will always rank higher than gays.  You might be stoned, raped, beaten, and beheaded – but at least you won’t be racist.


Even in America, You Can’t Say That!

We need to defend free speech whether it’s for Donald Trump or Jerry Seinfeld

More people are now being arrested and jailed in the UK for what they say or believe than at any time since the eighteenth century. That alone is enough to have some of us over here looking upon the US with admiration and barely disguised envy. In America, after all, freedom of expression still appears safe behind the 14-word barricade of the First Amendment to the Constitution, which declares that ‘Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press’.

Yet even in the US today, free speech faces new threats. Writing my book Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech? (the US edition is published this week), I was struck by how free speech is being challenged by similar trends across Anglo-American culture. The threat comes not from jackbooted political censorship, but from a more insidious culture of conformism chanting ‘You can’t say that!’.

Here are just three quick examples of where the free-speech wars are being fought in US society today.

In presidential politics

Donald Trump, the ‘billionaire buffoon’ and Republican presidential hopeful, has been rocking the boat with ridiculous campaign speeches – notably his attack on illegal Mexican immigrants to the US, accused of ‘bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and they’re rapists’.

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton reacted to The Donald’s diatribe with barely suppressed outrage. Her response, however, was not to counter Trump’s arguments (such as they are). Instead she effectively announced ‘He can’t say that!’.

Clinton acknowledged that America does need ‘a candid national conversation about race and about discrimination, prejudice, hatred’. Almost inevitably, however, the next word out of her mouth was ‘But…’. And the but was that we cannot have the likes of Donald Trump candidly expressing his hatred and prejudice. ‘We should not accept it’, said Clinton. ‘You don’t talk like that on talk radio. You don’t talk like that on the kind of political campaigns.’ Free speech and candid national conversations are all well and good, it seems, so long as you don’t say anything disagreeable.

Most revealing were Clinton’s reasons for wanting to shut Trump up. Saying ‘very inflammatory things about Mexicans’, she suggested, could ‘trigger people who are less than stable’, possibly to launch South Carolina-style racist attacks. Her real fear and loathing was not directed at Trump, but at the Americans who make up his audience and who she apparently imagines as a wooden-headed mob waiting to be set alight by an ‘inflammatory’ word. As ever, your view of free speech ultimately reflects your faith in humanity – or lack of it.

The Trump affair also confirmed another new threat to free speech in the US and the West: the rise of a clique of anti-free-speech activists who I call the ‘reverse-Voltaires’, and whose cry turns the French writer’s principled support for free speech inside out: ‘I know I’ll despise and be offended by whatever you are going to say, and I will defend to the end of free speech my right to stop you saying it.’ The reverse-Voltaires do not wish to dispute ideas or arguments that offend them. They would rather deny the other person’s right to say it in the first place.

Their favourite weapons are the Twitterstorm and the online petition, which they deploy to create an easy impression of public opinion on the march, an invisible army chanting ‘You can’t say that!’. So it was that online petitions demanding Trump be hounded out of decent society quickly garnered thousands of signatures. In response, everybody from NBC to Macy’s caved in and cut their ties to Trump.

Many of us may not wish to defend what The Donald said about Mexicans and much else. But we must defend his right to say it, if free speech is to have any real meaning for us. As Hustler publisher Larry Flynt put it with characteristic bluntness, ‘If the First Amendment will defend a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you’.

On the comedy circuit

Jerry Seinfeld recently followed Chris Rock’s lead in announcing that the offensiveness police has made it impossible to tell edgy jokes, particularly on college campuses. As Rock put it, student audiences are ‘too conservative. Not in their political views – not like they’re voting Republican – but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anyone.’

Perhaps more revealing than Seinfeld’s comments was the ‘You can’t say that!’ response it provoked. This was typified by a San Diego State college student who wrote him the inevitable ‘open letter’ lecturing the reasonably successful millionaire comedian about how only comedy routines with the politically correct ‘message’ can ‘work as humour’. The student, Anthony Bertaux, generously conceded that ‘provocative humour’ dealing with race and gender ‘can be crass and vulgar, but underlying it must be a context that spurs social dialogue about these respective issues. There needs to be a message, a central truth behind comedy for it to work as humour.’ The message is that the party line counts more than the punchline in deciding whether a joke ‘works’. This might seem funny if it were not a serious example of a fashionable disdain for free speech from US college campuses to the comedy circuit.

By its nature comedy is always controversial, pushing as it must at the limits of what passes for taste and decency in any era. That is why there have long been attempts to define ‘acceptable’ humour and to censor what is not. However, as with other issues in the Anglo-American free-speech wars, the terrain has shifted. Once the complaints were about blasphemous and indecent comedy, and the censors were conservative politicians, policemen and priests. Now the protests are more often against comedians accused of breaking the new taboos – racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and the other usual suspects. And the demands to shut them down tend to be led not by old-fashioned prudes but by radical online activists, the liberal media and even other comedians.

We have come a long way since the upsurge of modern radical comedy in the 1960s, when the Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce could be arrested and sentenced to the workhouse in America and barred from Britain for using the word ‘cocksucker’ on stage. Bruce was posthumously pardoned in 2003 by Republican New York governor George Pataki, who acknowledged how far things had changed. ‘Freedom of speech is one of the greatest American liberties’, Pataki said, ‘and I hope this pardon serves as a reminder of the precious freedoms we are fighting to preserve’.

These days Lenny Bruce is revered as a pioneering comedy hero. Yet if the young Lenny were magically to appear on the New York stage today, what reception might he get? A very mixed one, to judge by the ‘shut her down’ reaction to the great Joan Rivers before her death last year. His routine about a psychopathic rapist meeting up with a nymphomaniac after they each escape from their respective institutions, or suggestion that he enjoyed sex with a chicken, or description of his audience as ‘seven niggers, six spics, five micks, four kykes, three guineas, and one wop’, might not get him arrested for obscenity by the US state or barred from entering Britain, but it surely would see him accused of racism and sexism and possibly the abuse of animals and the mentally ill by the outraged illiberal liberals of the ‘shut it down’ lobby, who would try to have him banned from campuses. And Bruce’s insistence that he used the n-word and other offensive epithets ‘just to make a point’, that ‘it’s the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness’, would not wash with the new comedy censors, who claim the right to decide what jokes others should be allowed to tell or to laugh at, all in the public interest of course.

The most bitter free-speech battles these days can often be fought in the muddy lowlands of sport or comedy, far from the cultural highground. The wish to dictate not just what jokes a comedian should tell, but also what we should laugh at, is the clearest conceivable attempt at thought control. What could be more intrusive than the attempt to police something as reflexive as a snort of laughter? The trends towards a more conformist and intolerant world of comedy put at risk one of the most important sorts of release we have left in a dour world. The pulling of comedy’s teeth should be no laughing matter. If comedians are not allowed to upset and offend, what chance have the rest of us got?

Inside the American mind

One of the important gains of the Enlightenment was the drawing of a firm line between the private and public spheres of life. The autonomous individual would have a public voice, and a private space in which to think and speak free from the watchful eye of any intolerant inquisitor. That line is now being seriously blurred. There is no place to hide from encroachments on free speech in the US as well as the UK – even, it seems, inside your own mind.

We need only recall the 2014 affair of Donald Sterling, billionaire owner of the LA Clippers basketball team. The US media got hold of a secretly recorded conversation, in which Sterling told a female friend, ‘It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people’, after she had posted online a photo of her posing with basketball legend Magic Johnson. The nationwide ‘secret racism’ storm that followed blew Sterling out of the Clippers and the National Basketball Association.

Sterling’s words were not defensible. Yet he should never have had to defend them. His offensive words ought not to have put Sterling in the public stocks, because they were spoken in private. The notion of interrogating a person’s private thoughts at the point of a hot poker went out with the Inquisition. And a good thing, too. As the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes understood, unlike our public speech, ‘The secret thoughts of a man run over all things, holy, profane, clean, obscene, grave and light, without shame, or blame’.

No longer, it seems. Shaming and blaming men for their ‘secret thoughts’ is now apparently back in style. The result of fudging the line between private and public is disastrous for freedom of thought and speech, as one Washington Post columnist spelt out in response to the Sterling scandal: ‘If you don’t want your words broadcast in the public sphere, don’t say them… Such potential exposure forces us to more carefully select our words and edit our thoughts.’  We are now expected not simply to mind our language, but even to ‘edit’ our private thoughts to make sure they don’t infringe on cultural etiquette.

That ought to be a frightening, unedited, thought. Yet things have now gone so far that there was hardly a word of protest raised against the monstering of a public figure for his private words. The novelist Joyce Carol Oates felt moved to ask if she was ‘the only person in the US surprised that a private conversation, no matter how ugly, can be the basis for such public recrimination?’. (She wasn’t quite the only one – see spiked’s excellent coverage – but the minority was small.) In an article headed ‘End of Free Speech in America’, she asserted the basic truth that in a democratic society we should be free to ‘say anything in private, no matter how stupid, cruel, self-serving or plain wrong, and not be criminalised’. It is a dark sign of the times that those sensible words could themselves now seem shocking to many, even in the land of the free and the home of the First Amendment.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here